DIY Inexpensive & Long-Lasting Holiday Centerpiece

The holidays are upon us, and you may find yourself looking for a way to decorate a table with fresh flowers for a dinner or party without breaking the bank. Using local foliage and some inexpensive flowers available at the grocery store or farmer’s market, you can make your own! Not crafty? Have a black thumb? No worries. Here’s a step by step guide on how to make a long-lasting, inexpensive, and reusable centerpiece. 

DIY Holiday Centerpiece


Vase: Any shape or size will work. Mine is a 5×5 cylinder that I spray painted gold. The Dollar Tree has great small vases that I use frequently. You can also find great clear glass at large craft stores for 50% off if you have an internet coupon.

Sharp pair of garden shears: scissors or a good knife will also do the trick.

Wet floral foam block: Soak it in water and cut to fit your vase (available at craft stores and Wal-Mart.) Make sure to buy the wet foam for live flowers and not the dry kind for artificial flowers! * The foam is optional, but I’ll explain why it’s helpful later.

Two or three types of long-lasting foliage: There are many types readily available locally for no cost if you know what to look for. I used Pittosporum from my garden, Frasier Fir Christmas tree branches that I picked up off the Home Depot floor when we picked out our tree, and Magnolia branches that I may or may not have harvested from a neutral ground near my house. You can also use Leyland Cypress, Eucalyptus, and Camelia leaves. [Since I’m a bit of a plant nerd, click those links to help you identify the plants I’m talking about.] Ask friends and family if they have any of these plants for you to use; you’d be surprised how common they are once you know what you’re looking for.


Flowers of your choosing: Try to pick 3-5 impact flowers and then two kinds of smaller flowers in a different color. I used red Roses, white Stock, and Star of Bethlehem. I’ve found that Sam’s Club, Whole Foods, Costco, and Trader Joe’s all have good flowers that won’t break the bank. You can buy a big mixed bouquet and break it up, or buy three small bunches of things. Choose the colors based on the decor of the party space or the holiday that you celebrate. Have Camelias or Roses blooming at home? Use those! img_5614


{Step 1} Put the wet foam in the vase. Strip the leaves off the ends of the stems that will go into the foam. Decide how wide you want the centerpiece to be and cut the stems to slightly longer than the length you want them to stick out of the vase. Start putting foliage #1 around the outside edge, and then add in a few to the middle of the foam. I used the Frasier Fir for this step.


{Step 2} Add foliage #2 to the middle and toward the edge so it mixes in and overlaps with foliage #1. Fill in major gaps with foliage #3, making sure that the foam is no longer obvious but leaving room to add flowers. It should look something like this.

{Step 3} Strip the ends of the flowers like you did with the foliage. Remove any damaged outer petals, thorns, or leaves. Add the impact flowers so you see at least one on each side of the arrangement. Turn the vase as you go to make sure you can see one from any angle.img_5622img_5623

{Step 4} Add in the filler flowers to fill in the gaps, again, turning as you go to make sure one is visible from each side.img_5624



Remember when I told you that the foam was important? Here’s why. If you keep the foam wet (just add a little water to the vase now and then) the foliage should all stay fresh for a long time, up to a couple of weeks. If the flowers wilt, you can pluck them out and add new ones to the wet foam!

Good luck and Happy Holiday arranging!

::Update:: A week later, it still looks just as pretty as day one.



Lindsay is a native New Orleanian, displaced only by her years at Mississippi State, where she earned a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries and a minor in English. She came home shortly after Katrina, to work as a zookeeper and be a part of the rebuilding of her beloved city. She dragged her husband Drake, a Tennessee native, along with her. Their son Bennett joined the family in 2010, and in 2014 they welcomed identical twin girls, Genevieve and Kellen Clair. She now works full-time as an Environmental Scientist while working on her Master's and serving part-time as NOM’s resident Jill of All Trades. Powered by espresso, cake, and craft beer, her happy place is on a beach or in the woods. Need to identify a plant, tree, or animal? Lindsay’s a wealth of random knowledge. She loves to cook and sprinkle a little glitter on everything.


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